100 Miles for the Runaways and the Rescued

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A nonprofit fundraiser supporting

Somaly Mam Foundation
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I am racing 100 miles to help bring rehabilitation to young girls who have been rescued from sexual slavery.


raised by 99 people

$5,000 goal

Dear Friends,
I am writing in hopes that, through donations, you will support my cause as I race 100 miles to help bring rehabilitation to young girls who have been rescued from sexual slavery.

"...for as long as you know of it, you are particeps criminis. What business have you, if you are an "angel of light," to be pondering over the deeds of darkness?" Henry David Thoreau.

Benjamin E. Skinner had finished his talk and I stood before him, nervous, inspired and a bit intimidated by the view of the world this man had acquired on his travels documenting the plight of modern human slavery. I asked him for his autograph on a copy of his book A Crime so Monstrous , I had bought moments before after hearing him speak and asked a rather mundane question he must hear a thousand times over.

"What can I do to help? I'm just an architect." Mr. Skinner took the book from me and laughed.

"Nobody is just anything. Find something you are passionate about, good at doing, and use it to do something positive. You are not just an architect. You are a person who wants to help." With that he signed the front of my book "To Deanna, an angel of light unafraid to look into the darkness."

I took this as a compliment of sorts…until I read his book and the quote. Mr. Skinner had effectively challenged me to step up and do something.

Ever since my first encounter with the Somaly Mam Foundation through a friend of mine, gifted photographer Jennifer MacFarlane, I had felt a restlessness to reach out and help the fight against modern day slavery in any way possible. I had attended a fundraiser featuring photos from the brothels taken by Jennifer on her trip to Cambodia for a journalism assignment. When she had invited me to the event I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea slavery existed and I had no idea the depth of pain that could be revealed through simple photographs. The pictures had been blown up to larger than life sizes , over 5 feet tall. They featured a few of the girls looking back at the camera revealing with just a look, the pain of life. One picture in particular forced me to turn away in order to keep my composure. It was a simple shot of a girl's arms, turned wrist side up to show the multiple layers of scars criss-crossing her young skin. Scars of beatings. Scars of torture. Scars of self mutilation. Scars of suicide attempts-attempts to escape hell via death.

I read Somaly's book (The Road of Lost Innocence) shortly after. Her bare bones poetic prose spoke of a woman stronger than anyone I have ever met.

I have never experienced any sort of life such as these girls and I never will. I have nothing to compare to, to even begin to understand how much inner strength it takes to survive, and to continue surviving with hope for something better in a situation like theirs. It is an immense struggle, seemingly impossible to overcome, and yet they do. I stand in humble awe of their persistence and determination. All I know is a weight of depression and a desperation to be relieved of its heaviness by attempting to end it all. The aspect of life that has helped me recover from a former version of myself is running. Each mile I run takes me farther away from someone I once was and closer to who I am meant to be. I live my life happy and am thankful for how lucky I am for all that I have.

On July 31, 2010 in Ohio, I will step up to the starting line of a 100 mile race. The Burning River 100 . I have decided to face this challenge to run into a distance my body has never known and into a realm of physical challenge I have never faced as a small gesture of hope for the women SMF continues to rescue and rehabilitate. Each survivor has gone through so much and yet can still go further in order to escape and survive and in the end, hopefully be happy. 100 miles for me should be easy. Each mile I run will, in my heart, be a mile closer to a place of peace and healing for everyone SMF reaches out to. I will run for the ones who can't run away and I will run for the ones who have and who continue to do so.

This is where you, my friends, come in. My goal is to raise at least $5,000. Essentially $50 a mile. If I can get 500 people to give up 2 beers at their local pub, a weekly manicure, or one dinner out, I will surpass my goal.  I am covering all of my own costs of the race.  ALL of your donations go directly to SMF.

$5,000 goes a long way at SMF.

Please pay it forward and if you yourself are unable to give, I would appreciate it if you could share this link with as many people as you'd like to. Also, take a moment and read through the rest of Somaly.org for a better understanding of why this organization inspires me to run 100 miles.


This fundraiser supports

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Somaly Mam Foundation

Organized By Deanna Culbreath

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